Black Rob, the 'Whoa!' rapper, has died at the age of 52.
Robert Ross, also known as Black Rob, died at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta on Saturday afternoon at the age of 52. His most popular song was "Whoa!" from the year 2000. Mark Curry, a friend and fellow rapper who was with Ross at the time of his passing, reported Ross' death. Curry said in an interview on Sunday that Ross was admitted to the hospital on Saturday and died of cardiac arrest caused by a rare kidney condition.
The rapper had a history of kidney disease and diabetes, as well as a history of strokes. Curry, who has been on dialysis for the past five years, was admitted to the hospital last week. Following DMX's death last week, Ross' friend DJ Self shared a video from a hospital bed of a frail-looking Ross grieving the rapper and explaining his own situation. “I don't know, man, the pain is insane. It is, however, assisting me and reminding me that I have a long way to go.” Though Ross was soon released from the hospital, he stated that he was on the verge of homelessness and was suffering from a variety of health issues. He said, "Oh god, I've been struggling with this for five years." “Four strokes...I'm not sure what to say to you, man. This is insane. It's a tough slog.” says the narrator.
Curry tells Rolling Stone, "He was really serious about keeping his life together health-wise." “He didn't have any vices,” says the narrator. He was living the good life and in good spirits. An incredible source of motivation. A wonderful heart. A person of goodwill. He'll be missed everywhere.”
“A story teller,” says the narrator. An MC, to be precise. Any time I saw him, he was a gentlemen. LL Cool J wrote on Twitter, “Rest in power my brother.” “I'm at a loss. I'm pondering. I'm hoping for the best. I'm looking at the blank space in front of me. Pharoahe Monch said, "My condolences to your children and relatives."
The rapper's long association with Bad Boy started in 1996, when he featured on 112's remix of their hit "Come See Me," as well as other remixes and memorable guest verses. Four years later, he released his debut album Life Story, which went platinum and reached number three on the Billboard 200, as well as spawning the rapper's greatest hit "Whoa!"
In 2000, Rolling Stone said of Life Story, "He coasts through his debut release like a cocky veteran, spitting grim confessions ('Life Story') and baller mantras ('PD World Tour') without breaking a sweat." “The Bad Boy production team does an admirable job, churning out the kind of hook-heavy cuts that make the request lines ring.”
“Rest in peace, one of the greats. A blend of Biggie's storytelling and Slick's. Rick is sorely missed, particularly in the hip-hop world,” producer Buckwild exclaimed. “Thank you very much for contributing a timeless classic to my show. May the universe lead your spirit to a place of everlasting peace and comfort where your soul is at ease.”
Ross would go on to release three more albums, The Black Rob Report in 2005, Game Tested, Streets Approved in 2011, and Genuine Article in 2015, though a four-year prison sentence for grand larceny stunted his ability to continue his early success. Before founding his own label, the rapper left Bad Boy in 2010 and released Game Tested, Streets Approved by Duck Down.
Sean Combs, the founder of Bad Boy Records, who signed Ross, spoke with Curry on Friday, and the two reconciled their previous disagreements, according to Curry. “One thing I was going to do before I left this Earth was make sure we all spoke to each other again,” Rob said before passing away, according to Curry. “It's really inspiring to see people develop and learn to forgive.” (A call for comment from Combs' representative was not returned.)
Ross's friends started a Gofundme page last week to help with the rapper's medical bills. Curry and rapper-producer Mike Zombie wrote, "This Gofundme is to help him find a home, pay for medical help, and stability during these hard times." "We've already lost a lot of legends, and we can't afford to lose any more." “Losing him is the worst thing about it, but the second-worst part is how long it took for someone to help,” Zombie tells Rolling Stone. The money raised from the Gofundme, which had nearly $30,000 as of Sunday afternoon, will go to Ross' family, according to Zombie and Curry.
Curry says, "When we came to the fans in his time of need, they reacted instantly." “Seeing so many people cared for him and donated was amazing for him.” Curry says the Gofundme campaign will continue, and Ross' family is holding a vigil in New York City.
Curry explains, "His album was called Life Story." “I believe he had another story in life that I wish we all knew about: the trials and tribulations of a man trying to live his life, feed his family, and spread love.”